Weekend Wrap: April 13-15
While the major focus of the MMA world was on the return of the UFC, as UFC on Fuel 2 marked the promotion’s debut in Sweden, many other promotions were busy as well. Cards from the East Coast of the US, Australia, Japan and the Midwest provided action for fans in any time zone. As usual, Bellator put on the most relevant card outside of the Zuffa banner. so we’ll start there.
It seems that many media outlets are focused on the development of a young prospect who was fighting this weekend, but in my estimation praise is being heaped upon the wrong one for the most part. Certainly, Alexander Gustafsson looked good against Thiago Silva, controlling most of their bout, but his performance was nothing near that of now Bellator Bantamweight Champion Eduardo Dantas. Yet another lighter weight Nova Uniao prospect, Dantas ran an absolute clinic on reigning champion Zach Makovsky, a solid Bantamweight in his own right.
In the first round, Dantas landed heavy kicks to the body of his foe, before being taken down and threatening constantly from his back. In the second Dantas reversed a Makovsky takedown, and went to work from top position, switching between mount and back control before Makovsky was able to briefly secure guard. From there, Dantas passed once again and secured an arm-triangle choke that despite being defended well by Makovsky still put him to sleep. An immaculate performance from Dantas that was equal parts technical and violent against a top 15 Bantamweight, it has some people already hypothesizing about when ‘Dudu’ can escape from his Bellator contract to challenge Dominick Cruz in the UFC. My primary concern is ensuring that Bellator gets him the fights he deserves, and not “Superfights” against the likes of Chad Robichaud and Ryan Roberts, like Makovsky was subjected to while waiting for a tournament challenger.
As this card was structured the same as the one from last weekend, it featured a Featherweight Semi-final in second position. Daniel Straus proved as expected that he is simply better than Mike Corey in every department. He was vastly superior on the feet, had the better takedowns, and was more effective both in the clinch and on the ground. Corey proved once again that he is an incredibly tough fighter, as he was consistently hit with solid shots and his face was an absolute mess after 15 minutes, but stayed in there as best he could. Straus now moves on to the unenviable task of facing Marlon Sandro in the Featherweight final. This will be the second time Straus finds himself in a tournament final, and I see it being the second time he loses a tournament final as well, as Sandro’s combination of takedown defence and striking prowess will prove too much for Straus.
I had mentioned earlier that the biggest concern I have for Dantas will be finding him suitable fights, and moving towards that goal is this season’s Bantamweight tournament, where the final two quarterfinals took place on Friday night. Of all the tournaments I found this one the hardest to pick, and it has shown as I only picked one of the semi-finalists correctly, and that was an extremely close decision. This weekend I picked Alexis Vila and Ed West to win, and they both fell to Luis Nogueira and Marcos Galvao, respectively. Nogueira’s win left little to get excited about, as it seemed like he got the decision because Vila decided to do absolutely nothing in the third round. Galvao on the other hand looked very impressive as he actually moved forward with effective offence, and utilized his grappling to great effect. I would position the Nova Uniao product as the favourite to win the tournament at this point, which creates an interesting dynamic, with Dantas also being from Nova Uniao. Would the two Brazilian Bantamweights square off, or would Bellator be left searching for another UFC washout to face their champion?
The biggest fight on the undercard had Lyman Good blitzing Levon Maynard, ending his night in just 13 seconds to qualify for the next Welterweight tournament. In the surprising choice as the dark bout (not shown on the Spike.com pre/post-lims), prospect E.J. Brooks moved towards being entered into the next Lightweight tournament with a win over Mikhail Malyutin. Finally, UFC veteran Kris McCray tossed his hat in the ring for the next 170lb bracket, with a hard fought split decision win over Ailton Barbosa.
There was plenty of other action on Friday night, as many cards featured some rising prospects as well as familiar names from some bigger organizations.
Featured on HDNet, I didn’t get a chance to catch as much of this card as I would have liked, since my TV provided has dropped the channel, so I had to try to flip back and forth between Bellator on Spike.com and HDNet on what will remain an unnamed live streaming site. As such I can’t offer a ton in terms of breakdown. Luckily the card was headlined by two fighters who washed out of Bellator, so there’s not a ton of relevance to break down. In the main event, Eric Reynolds bested Luciano dos Santos via Unanimous Decision. The co-main event showed something with a little bit more promise as young Brazilian Marlon Moraes picked up his second consecutive solid victory, as he knocked Jarrod Card out in 47 seconds. In more of a publicity stunt than legitimate MMA match, one-handed fighter Nick Newell remained undefeated, going to decision for the first time in his career. I’m happy for Newell that he’s able to pursue a career in MMA, and it’s impressive that he’s able to defeat anyone in the sport, let alone seven consecutive people (even if their combined record is 14-31), but I’ll always call a spade a spade. The other two notables on this card saw Felice Herrig and Charles Blanchard both picking up decision victories.
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Only one point of note, and that is Joe Wilk avenging his December 2010 loss to Aaron Steele, winning with a second round Guillotine. Wilk now finds himself on a four-fight winning streak, with the last three coming via submission. Given that, and the fact he’s gained some exposure through fighting on multiple HDNet cards, perhaps Wilk could find himself on a bigger stage soon. He’s not the type of fighter who will make an impact at the next level, but he’s solid, and enjoyable to watch, which both work in his favour.
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This card featured a couple notable bouts, but ones more geared to the local Florida audience. The main event saw Luis Palomino defeat James Warfield by Unanimous Decision. With the history both of these fighters have which has been typified by struggling against next level competition, I would have rather seen each guy against a younger prospect, but I understand the promoter wanting to see the local guy (Palomino) pick up a win, as it’s all about selling tickets for the next show for these smaller promotions.
A couple other notable names picked up losses on this card as Edson Berto – best known for being knocked out by an incredible flying knee courtesy of Yves Edwards – and ‘Krazy Horse’ Bennett fell to Abel Trujillo and Peter Grimes neither of whom is particularly impressive, but it just underscores how truly past it some of the guys who were featured in the sport years ago are (or were always, in Bennett’s case).
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Down in Brazil, one time highly touted prospect Pedro Irie picked up a TKO win, and one of the more successful fighters in the history of the ill-fated Rio Heroes organization, Flavio Alvaro took home a Unanimous Decision. Neither is going to amount to much outside of Brazil, but perhaps Alvaro gets a shot in Bellator, not unlike other Brazilian veterans ‘Sapo’ Santos or ‘Indio’ Pereira received.
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This card proved just how far the South African MMA scene has to go before it can compete on the world stage, as Jadyson Costa who some might remember from the Chute Boxe days and losing to Takanori Gomi in PRIDE Bushido, defeated reigning Welterweight champion Dallas Jakobi with a fourth round TKO.
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Another UFC veteran in action on this Rhode Island based card, as John Howard picked up his second consecutive win since being ousted from the organization last summer. I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing Howard back in the UFC any time soon, but until that point, he should be able to make a living beating up on local fighters from the East Coast.
Saturday saw much more global action, as aside from the UFC in Sweden, Australia and Japan hosted cards.
The biggest bout outside of both the UFC and US on Saturday saw former UFC Heavyweight Soa Palelei pick up his sixth consecutive win since losing to Daniel Cormier in November 2010. With the state of Heavyweight MMA, I would be shocked to see Palelei not move up to a bigger organization following his already scheduled May 18th
match win against Bob Sapp.
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Australian Welterweight prospect Dan Pauling picked up his eighth win in eight MMA outings, and seventh by submission with an Anaconda Choke (his sixth victory via form of choke). Pauling also finds himself on the same CFC 21 card as Palelei, and is scheduled to meet Corey Nelson in what should be his toughest test to date, but should ultimately garner him another submission victory.
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In the main event of Shooto’s latest offering, Bantamweight Yuta Sasaki moved his record to 9-1-1 by submitting a sub .500 fighter in Kazuhiro Ito by Rear-Naked Choke, in a typically Japanese match.
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Finally, moving back to North America, the other card taking place in Atlantic City this weekend featured three solid prospects from the East Coast, as George Sullivan, Aljamain Sterling and Sean Santella all picked up wins on this card. I’m not going to pretend to be able to give you the insight that Sherdog’s Lufti Sariahmed can on this card, as he saw it live, so check out the recap over on Sherdog, CFFC 14 Recap.